BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's syringe manufacturers said on Tuesday they will supply 30 million syringes and needles for the country's COVID-19 vaccination program after the government said it would requisition surplus supplies.
Executives of the three main manufacturers met with President Jair Bolsonaro at the Health Ministry and it was agreed that each would supply 10 million syringes to cover the initial stages of the vaccination plan.
The government has not approved any vaccine yet and hopes to start inoculating priority groups with imported vaccines before the end of the month, well behind some of Brazil's neighbors such as Argentina and Chile.
"There will not be any shortage of syringes for the vaccines that will arrive in the country," said Paulo Henrique Fraccaro, head of Brazil's medical supplies and equipment industry lobby group ABIMO.
Brazil has the world's second deadliest outbreak after the United States and its president, who has downplayed the severity of coronavirus, is facing criticism for not organizing an effective response to the pandemic.
Fraccaro said the government decided to requisition syringe supplies after it failed to draw bids last week at an electronic auction session. It had sought to buy 331 million syringes but purchased just 8 million, or 2.5% of its target, after it set reference prices below companies' bids.
The government agreed to gradual deliveries of the syringes over this month within the companies production capacities and will hold another bidding session in one or two weeks with "adjusted" prices, Fraccaro told Reuters by telephone.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lincoln Feast)